When many of the bop-based Young Lions who emerged in the '90s made it known that they were only interested in playing in the tradition and that they had no interest in avant-garde experiments, Jack Walrath insisted that he was playing out of the tradition and didn't shy away from an inside/outside approach. Walrath isn't as radical as Lester Bowie, but he certainly isn't as conservative as Wynton Marsalis, either. One of the many impressive albums he provided in the '90s, Journey, Man! finds the trumpeter leading a band he called Hard Corps and employs a cast of players you'd expect to find on a hard bop date, including Bobby Watson (alto sax), Craig Handy (tenor and soprano sax), Kenny Drew, Jr. (piano), Ray Drummond (bass), and Victor Lewis (drums). And in fact, hard bop and post-bop are exactly what the sextet plays on material ranging from the exuberant "Pete's Steps" (which is based on John Coltrane's "Giant Steps") to Art Blakey-ish offerings like the funky "Butt! (Tails from the Backside)," and the haunting ballad "When Love Has Gone (It Comes Out Like This)." But Walrath isn't one to limit himself creatively, and providing an abundance of Jazz Messengers-influenced arrangements doesn't prevent him from taking it "outside" on the angular "Bouncin' with Ballholzka." Although not as daring as some of Walrath's other albums, Journey, Man! is a rewarding date from a trumpeter who refuses to be predictable.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson